In July of 1998, the editors of the Modern Library released their picks for the
100 best English language novels of the 20th century. The list ignited a firestorm
of controversy. Why did they include so few novels written by women? Why didn't
they include more minority writers? Why so few written by living writers? And
who's even heard of Zuleika
, anyway? Surprisingly, amidst all this wrangling there was little criticism
of the Modern Library's choice for the number one slot, James
's great Modernist novel, Ulysses
. Though initially branded "obscene"
and effectively censored for nearly twenty years, Ulysses
is today recognized
as one of the great intellectual triumphs of the 20th century. It would be difficult
to overstate Ulysses
's impact. Joyce's intricate exploration of one day
in the life of Stephen Dedalus and Leopold Bloom did for literature what Einstein's
Theory of Relativity did for physics; it completely revolutionized the form. With
, Joyce not only perfected "stream of consciousness"
that great Modernist innovation and created one of the most complex intellectual
labyrinths ever devised by a single mind, he also exploded the boundaries of the
language like few writers in history. At the dawn of the 21st century, Ulysses
is indispensable to the library of any serious reader.
This handsome edition follows the complete and unabridged text as corrected
and reset in 1961 and includes a letter from Joyce to Bennett Cerf, the publisher
of Random House; the complete text of Judge John Woolsey's 1934 decision lifting
the ban against Ulysses in the United States; and the original foreword
to the book by Morris L. Ernst, who defended Ulysses during the trial.
Synopses & Reviews
Ulysses is one of the most influential novels of the twentieth century. It was not easy to find a publisher in America willing to take it on, and when Jane Jeap and Margaret Anderson started printing extracts from the book in their literary magazine The Little Review in 1918, they were arrested and charged with publishing obscenity. They were fined $100, and even The New York Times expressed satisfaction with their conviction. Ulysses was not published in book form until 1922, when another American woman, Sylvia Beach, published it in Paris her Shakespeare & Company. Ulysses was not available legally in any English-speaking country until 1934, when Random House successfully defended Joyce against obscenity charges and published it in the Modern Library. This edition follows the complete and unabridged text as corrected and reset in 1961. Judge John Woolsey's decision lifting the ban against Ulysses is reprinted, along with a letter from Joyce to Bennett Cerf, the publisher of Random House, and the original foreword to the book by Morris L. Ernst, who defended Ulysses during the trial.
"Ulysses will immortalize its author with the same certainty that Gargantua immortalized Rabelais, and The Brothers Karamazov immortalized Dostoyevsky....It comes nearer to being the perfect revelation of a personality than any book in existence." The New York Times
"Talk about understanding 'feminine psychology' I have never read anything to surpass it, and I doubt if I have ever read anything to equal it." Arnold Bennett
"To my mind one of the most significant and beautiful books of our time." Gilbert Seldes, in The Nation
Selected by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best novels of all time
Considered the greatest 20th century novel written in English, in this edition Walter Gabler uncovers previously unseen text. It is a disillusioned study of estrangement, paralysis and the disintegration of society.
About the Author
James Joyce was born on February 2, 1882, in Rathgar, Dublin. He was one of ten children. He was educated at Jesuit schools and at University College, Dublin. A brilliant student of languages, Joyce once wrote an admiring letter in Norwegian to Henrik Ibsen. He went to Paris for a year in 1902, where he discovered the novel Les Lauriers Sont Coupes
by Edouard Dujardin, whose stream-of-consciousness technique he later credited with influencing his own work. Following his mother's death, he returned to Ireland for a brief stay, and then left with Nora Barnacle, with whom he spent the rest of his life. They had two children, George and Lucia Anna, the latter of whom suffered in later years from schizophrenia. (Joyce and Nora were formally married in 1931.)
Joyce lived in voluntary exile from Ireland, although Irish life continued to provide the raw material for his writing. In Trieste, he taught English and made the acquaintance of the Italian novelist Italo Svevo. His first book, the poetry collection Chamber Music, appeared in 1907. The publication of the short story collection Dubliners was delayed repeatedly, and eventually the Irish publisher destroyed the proofs for fear of libel action; this prompted Joyce's final visit to Ireland in 1912. The book was eventually published in 1914 and greeted with acclaim by Ezra Pound, whose enthusiastic support helped Joyce establish a literary career. In 1915 Joyce and Nora moved to Zurich, and at the end of World War I they settled in Paris. His only play, Exiles, was published in 1918 and staged in Munich the same year without success. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, an autobiographical novel (developed from the embryonic, posthumously published Stephen Hero) tracing the artistic development of Stephen Dedalus, was published in 1916. By this time Pound and W. B. Yeats had succeeded in obtaining for Joyce some financial support through the Royal Literary Fund, but he continued to be in need of money for most of his life.
Joyce began to suffer from serious vision difficulties due to glaucoma; he would eventually be forced to undergo many operations and long periods of near-blindness. Ulysses, the epic reconstruction of the minutiae of a single day in Dublin June 16, 1904 was serialized in The Little Review starting in 1918, and published in Paris (by the American Sylvia Beach through her bookstore Shakespeare & Company) in 1922, on his fortieth birthday. Due to censorship it remained unavailable in the United States until 1934 and in the United Kingdom until 1936. Except for a small volume of verse, Pomes Penyeach (1927), Joyce published nothing thereafter except extracts from the enormous work in progress that emerged as Finnegans Wake in 1939. In his later years he was closely associated with the young Samuel Beckett, whom he had met in 1928. After the German invasion of France, Joyce and Nora moved back to Zurich, where he died on January 13, 1941.
Review A Day
"Yet, for all its appalling longueurs, Ulysses
is a work of high genius. Its importance seems to me to lie, not so much in its opening new doors to knowledge unless in setting an example to Anglo-Saxon writers of putting down everything without compunction or in inventing new literary forms Joyce's formula is really, as I have indicated, nearly seventy-five years old as in its once more setting the standard of the novel so high that it need not be ashamed to take its place beside poetry and drama. Ulysses
has the effect at once of making everything else look brassy." Edmund Wilson Jr., The New Republic, 1922
(read the entire New Republic review